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December 17, 2009

Family tree sprouts new branches at ULM School of Nursing

For Matt Davis of West Monroe, nursing isn’t just a professional calling – it’s a family affair.

When Davis graduates Saturday from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, the achievement will be paired with the joy of joining other alums of ULM’s School of Nursing – most especially, his own parents.

In fact, Davis’ wife Crystal and his brother Brandon, both level five nursing students, will add another branch to the School of Nursing alumni tree when they eventually graduate.

Upon graduation, Davis will bring his hard work, training and skills to the Intensive Care Unit of Glenwood Regional Medical Hospital, and like his parents, impact the health and financial stability of the community he serves.

“I’m scared but I feel confident that ULM has created me to be a very strong professional nurse,” he said.

Davis called his parents “heroes,” as he described the financial struggles they faced and the sacrifices made when they enrolled at ULM as non-traditional students in the early 1990s. His mother, Diane Davis, eventually became a nurse practitioner in a Monroe clinic, and his father, Bruce Davis, became a local nursing entrepreneur.

“The Davis family is a good example of how we have local professionals who positively impact community healthcare,” said ULM’s Director of Nursing Dr. Florencetta H. Gibson, who taught all three family members.

“Considering that there is national nursing shortage, one that is also local and regional, this family will contribute in a very positive way to patient outcomes in our area,” she said.

Gibson said that when entrepreneur Bruce Davis of Case Experts combined his nursing training with a new business, he brought additional revenue to the community. And advanced practitioners such as Diane Davis provide excellent care beyond the nursing basics, according to Gibson.

“Now we have two sons and a daughter-in-law who will be impacting nursing care at the entry level,” she said.

But Gibson said the Davis family is not an unusual phenomenon. Family connections are positively contagious when one or more family members expose others to their own professional success following graduation, she said. Exposure to the excellent programs and faculty ULM provides can’t hurt either.

Matt Davis agrees that the nursing faculty at ULM is one of its strongest assets, largely because of individualized attention and an emphasis on patient outcomes. He describes his time at the university as “the best experience” he ever has had in his life.

One indication of the program’s excellence is how consistently ULM nursing graduates earn perfect scores on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), a test considered the final hurdle in a nursing student’s career. Gibson said the passage rate is the result of a student population that is trained from the outset to think critically and remain patient focused. And even in a deep recession the demand for well-trained nurses shows no signs of abating, she said.

“A nursing degree can produce a career at many different levels of practice. And with salaries for new nurses at more than minimum wage – about the mid 60s – our graduates never have to look for jobs,” said Gibson.

“This is such an awesome profession,” said Davis. “To go into someone’s room and know they trust you … it’s something I hold in high regard and pride myself in.”

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